Romans 7 deals with issues of conscience and judgement. The circumstances were over believers tearing one another down over practices that had nothing to do with their faith. They were concerned with conduct that had no bearing on salvation.

We, when addressing non-believers have a parallel struggle. We should always hold ourselves to the highest standard. If something is sin, we remove it from our lives. We avoid temptation. We honor God.

But how can we expect the same of people who neither know or understand God?

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Jesus ate and drank with prostitutes. He didn’t wait for them to decide to quit sex work to talk to them like people. Jesus went into the houses of tax collectors, who worked for the invading Romans. He even made one an apostle!

And yes, He met with the religious leaders who were so deep in tradition that they couldn’t even see the ways that they transgressed the will of God. He didn’t wait until after their resignation of the cause, but met them in their homes as they openly opposed Him or in secret on rooftops as they sneaked out to get a moment with Him.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

We who struggle against sin in our own bodies even as redeemed people must apply the same standards as the sinless one who gave us the Good News: teach everyone without prejudice. In this moment, that means to convince people that salvation is necessary before trying to explain how to be saved.

Ethan Kirl

Originally Published July 15, 2020